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Hast. But tho' he had the will, he has not the power to relieve you.
Miss Nev. But he has influence, and upon that I am resolved to rely.
Hast. I have no hopes. But since you persist, I must reluctantly obey you.
Changes. Enter Sir CHARLES Marlow and Miss
HARDCASTLE. Sir Char. What a situation am I in! If what you say appears, I shall then find a guilty son. If what he says be true, I shall then lose one that, of all others, I most wished for a daughter. .
Miss Hard. I am proud of your approbation, and to shew I merit it, if you place yourselves as I directed, you shall hear his explicit declaration. But he comes.
Sir Char. I'll to your father, and keep him to the appointment.
[Exit Sir Charles. Enter MARLOW. Mar. Tho' prepared for setting out, I come once more to take leave; nor did I, till this moment, know the pain I feel in the separation.
Miss Hard. [In her own natural manner] I believe these sufferings cannot be very great, Sir, which you can so easily remove. A day or two longer, perhaps, might lessen your uneasiness, by shewing the little value of what you now think proper to regret.
Mar. [ Aside] This girl every moment improves upon me. (To her] It must not be, Madam. I have already trifled too long with my heart. My very pride begins to submit to my passion. The disparity of education and fortune, the anger of a parent, and the contempt of my equals, begin to lose their weight; and nothing can restore me to myself, but this painful effort of resolution.
Miss Hard. Then go, Sir. I'll urge nothing more to detain you. Tho' my family be as good as hers you came down to visit, and my education, I hope, not inferior, what are these advantages without equal affluence? I must remain contented with the slight approbation of imputed merit; I must have only the mockery of your addresses, while all your serious aims are fix'd on fortune. . Enter HARDCASTLE and Sir CHARLES MARLOW
from behind. Sir Char. Here, behind this screen.
Hard. Ay, ay, make no noise. I'll engage my Kate covers him with confusion at last.
Mar. By heavens, Madam, fortune was ever my smallest consideration. Your beauty at first caught my eye ; for who could see that without emotion. But every moment that I converse with you, steals in some new grace, heightens the picture, and gives it stronger expression. What at first seem'd rustic plainness, ROW appears refin’d simplicity. What seem'd forward
assurance, now strikes me as the result of courageous innocence, and conscious virtue.
Sir. Char. What can it mean! He amazes me!
Mar. I am now determined to stay, Madam, and I have too good an opinion of my father's discernment, when he sees you, to doubt his approbation.
Miss Hard. No, Mr. Marlow, I will not, cannot detain you. Do you think I could suffer a connection, in which there is the smallest room for repentance ? Do you think I would take the mean advantage of a transient passion, to load you with confusion? Do you think I could ever relish that happiness which was acquired by lessening yours?
Mar. By all that's good, I can have no happiness but what's in your power to grant me. Nor shall I ever feel repentance, but in not having seen your merits before. I will stay, even contrary to your wishes; and tho' you should persist to shun me, I will make my respectful assiduities atone for the levity of my past conduct.
Miss Hard. Sir, I must entreat you'll desist. As our acquaintance began, so let it end, in indifference. I might have given an hour or two to levity; but seriously, Mr. Marlow, do you think I could ever submit to a connection, where I must appear mercenary, and you imprudent? Do you think I could ever catch at the confident addresses of a secure admirer?
Mar. [Kneeling] Does this look like security? Does this look like confidence? No, Madam, every moment
that shews me your merit, only serves to increase my diffidence and confusion. Here let me continuem
Sir Char. I can hold it no longer. Charles, Charles, how hast thou deceived me! Is this your indifference, your uninteresting conversation ?
Hard. Your cold contempt ; your formal interview? What have you to say now?
Mar. That I'm all amazement! What can it mean? · Hard. It means that you can say and unsay things at pleasure. That you can address a lady in private, and deny it in public; that you have one story for us, and another for my daughter. i
Mar. Daughter !--this lady your daughter!
Hard. Yes, Sir, my only daughter. My Kate, whose else should she be? · Mar. Oh, the devil! · Miss Hard. Yes, Sir, that very identical tall squinting lady you were pleased to take me for [Curtesying.] She that you addressed as the mild, modest, sentimen. tal man of gravity, and the bold forward agreeable rattle of the ladies' club; ha, ha, ha!
Mar. Zounds! there's no bearing this; it's worse than death.
Miss Hard. In which of your characters, Sir, will you give us leave to address you? As the faltering gentleman, with looks on the ground, that speaks just to be heard, and hates hypocrisy; or the loud confident creature, that keeps it up with Mrs. Mantrap, and old Mrs. Biddy Buckskin, till three in the morn. ing; ha, ha, ha!
Mar. O, curse on my noisy head! I never attempted to be impudent yet, that I was not taken down. I must be gone.
Hard. By the hand of my body, but you shall not., I see it was all a mistake, and I am rejoiced to find it. You shall not, Sir, I tell you. I know she'll forgive you. Won't you forgive him, Kate? We'll all forgive you. Take courage, man.
[They retire, she tormenting him to the back scene.
Enter Mrs. HARDCASTLE, and Tony. Mrs. Hard. So, so, they're gone off. Let them go, I care not.
Hard. Who gone ?
Mrs. Hard. My dutiful niece and her gentleman, Mr. Hastings, from town. He who came down with our modest visiter here.
Sir Char. Who, my honest George Hastings. As worthy a fellow as lives, and the girl could not have made a more prudent choice.
Hard. Then by the hand of my body, I'm proud of the connection.
Mrs. Hard. Well, if he has taken away the lady, he has not taken her fortune, that remains in this family to console us for her loss.
Hard. Sure, Dorothy, you would not be so merce. nary? Mrs. Hard. Ay, that's my affair, not yours. But